Peace, Love, and Travel

It’s been a difficult week for the world. The terrorist attacks in Paris have evoked so many emotions in people: fear, sadness, anger, frustration. Certainly all emotions I have experienced. I don’t usually get “political”, but since this is mostly a blog about travel, I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t post my thoughts and observations.

I love Paris, as do so many others. I have had the pleasure of visiting the city and was so inspired by it that I made it the setting for my first novel, which I am still in the process of writing. The tragedy hit even closer to home for me when I was looking at a map of the attack sites. The Bataclan theatre was only a few blocks from the hotel where I had stayed, and in the vicinity of the neighborhood where I enjoyed many meals at various cafes and restaurants.

The thought of enjoying a leisurely dinner on a normal Friday night and having gunmen ambush the restaurant is very scary, and it makes the world feel so unsafe, so uncertain. It makes people feel they can’t leave their comfort zone or venture out past their idea of what is safe, but we can’t do that. We have to move on. We have to persevere. We have to live. If we don’t, we’re giving into the terrorists. We’re giving them what they want, and I won’t allow them to do that. Yes, I’m scared, even more so because I have family members that live in Europe and the threat of another terrorist attack there is strong, but I will still travel. I will go to Europe again and I will travel to Paris again without hesitation. My life will not stop. My love of travel will not stop because a faction of people have such a hate in their heart that they are willing to kill innocent humans.

Although this is a sobering thought, the truth is that anything could happen to anyone, anywhere. We are never truly safe from harm. Accidents happen and we can never predict what the future might hold. We just need to live our lives as fully as we can.

In that vein, we also must remain compassionate. The tragedy of what happened that day makes me incredibly sad, but I’m also sad about the reactions I am hearing from people, particularly Americans, regarding Muslims and the increasing demand that we not allow Syrian refugees into this country. I understand that people are scared and they are acting and speaking on a gut reaction to the attacks, but we must take the time to think. We cannot let fear control our emotions, because our emotions can lead us to thoughtless actions, and our actions have consequences.

I ask that everyone educate themselves on the issues. Learn, read, and understand the plight of Syrians and others in war ravaged countries. These are children and families who risk their lives on dangerous journeys to Europe to escape certain death and persecution in their country. They don’t want to leave their homes, they simply have no choice. There are a large number of children in German orphanages whose parents couldn’t make the journey or were separated from them. These children found their own way. They have no home, no family, but they have their lives.

It’s unfair to label all Syrians or all Muslims as terrorists, because it’s simply not true. Don’t punish all for the actions of a few. As hokey as it sounds, I do believe love and unity can heal us, and that we can make a difference with compassion and humanity.

Travel safe. Travel well. Love all.